At around midnight last night, the freshly U.S.-sanctioned head of the government’s National Elections Council popped up on our screens to announce the results of yesterday’s doomstituyente election. By results I don’t mean “the winners” — only the governing party was running— but turnout: how many people actually showed up to grace yesterday’s with their presence. Her number —8,089,320— instantly underlined what we’ve known for some time: damnit, we’re going to need a new Elections Council

These people somehow figured out a way to commit fraud in an election where they were running unopposed.

To believe yesterday’s turnout figure you’d have to believe that somehow, amid the most terrifying economic and social crisis in Venezuelan history, with 3 out of 4 people actually losing bodyweight because they’re so hungry, the government got more popular, not less. Miraculously an extra 2.4 million people decided they want to go for the government, compared to their tally of 5,622,844 at parliamentary elections 19 months ago.

Somehow, we’re told, the Constituent Assembly is virtually as popular as Hugo Chávez was, with cancer, at the height of the 2012 oil boom.

It’s a figure that strains all credulity, and whose only function is to establish beyond a shadow of doubt that CNE, on top of enabling all kinds of unfair play in the run-up to an election, can no longer even be trusted to do the one thing it had just about managed to do credibly up to now: count the actual votes.

These people somehow figured out a way to commit fraud in an election where they were running unopposed. It’s amazing — like cheating at solitaire.

Since 2012, CNE has suffered the same transformation as the Supreme Tribunal has: going from a reliably friendly pro-government organ that nonetheless recognized the need to keep a minimum plausibility, to “pass” as an actual institution, to a fully subservient branch office of Miraflores.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.